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What Can Be Computed?

A Practical Guide to the Theory of Computation

John MacCormick



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Princeton University Press
01 May 2018
An accessible and rigorous textbook for introducing undergraduates to computer science theory What Can Be Computed? is a uniquely accessible yet rigorous introduction to the most profound ideas at the heart of computer science. Crafted specifically for undergraduates who are studying the subject for the first time, and requiring minimal prerequi
By:   John MacCormick
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 254mm,  Width: 178mm, 
ISBN:   9780691170664
ISBN 10:   0691170665
Pages:   408
Publication Date:   01 May 2018
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

John MacCormick is associate professor of computer science at Dickinson College and a leading teacher, researcher, and writer in his field. He has a PhD in computer vision from the University of Oxford and has worked in the research labs of Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. His previous books include Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers (Princeton). Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine created the curved crease sculpture featured on the cover of What Can Be Computed? Cover photo courtesy of the artists.

Reviews for What Can Be Computed?: A Practical Guide to the Theory of Computation

I would love to adopt this text for my introduction to theory of computation course. The level and coverage is perfect for undergraduates. The text hits the sweet spot by carefully presenting the ideas without an overwhelming level of mathematical sophistication. I want my students to come away from the course with the big ideas rather than struggling through mathematical notation and formal proofs, and this text does exactly that. I love that the main computational model is Python, and I think this makes the content more real for students. --Jill Zimmerman, Goucher College This wonderful book explores the theory of computing from a practical viewpoint. John MacCormick covers the basic concepts of computability and complexity, what we can and cannot compute--keeping the material grounded by connecting it with Python--the popular programming language. --Lance Fortnow, author of The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible What Can Be Computed? should succeed brilliantly in capturing the imagination of students. Using Python as a model of computation, MacCormick is able to introduce the greatest ideas in computer science theory as quickly and intuitively as possible. On the other hand, no rigor is ever lost. Over and over, he finds ways to take very complex concepts and boil them down to small and concrete components. Core concepts are presented in a beautiful and accessible way. --Matt Franklin, University of California, Davis This well-designed, well-written, and accessible book assumes minimal prerequisites, explains the intuition behind its proofs, and has the unique feature of using Python as a computational model, which makes the presentation practical. I especially like its inclusion of historical content. --Jianfeng Lu, Duke University

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